View down sidewalk showing street parking occupied by tents and informational tables

Planning Students Take Back the Parking Space

Planning Students Take Back the Parking Space

School of City and Regional Planning students gathered groups from across Atlanta in Tech Square to show the hidden high costs of parking in urban design.

"In celebrating Park(ing) Day, we transform parking spaces into vibrant, community-driven pockets of creativity," said Gulsah Akar, chair of the School. "This annual event reminds us that in the heart of urban landscapes, there's room for greenery, art, and play. Celebrating global Park(ing) Day at Tech Square is one of our school traditions!"

"It's a good visionary experience," said Micah Tamura, a second-year master's student in the School. "It invites everyone to envision a new way to see parking spaces, not as a place for cars, but places for people to gather and the public to enjoy."

Contemporary Urban Design Hears Community Voices

Pedestrian places sticky note containing idea for reusing a parking space on a board laid out with city streets.

The Student Planning Association (SPA), which organized the event, invited passers-by to imagine how they would re-use a parking space and post their ideas on a city street layout.

"One of the things we've focused on in the program is that a lot of existing planning has come from not talking to the community enough," said Dominique Vitti, a second-year master's student in the program.

"Events like this allow us to talk to people, to say, 'Put your idea here! Your voice matters, your opinion matters.'"

Tamura agreed. "It's important to meet people where they're at, to see how they envision places and then collaborate and brainstorm together."

Parking Land Use Carries High Costs

Alex Kozela seated at a table in a parking space, talking to pedestrians. A prize wheel labeled with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals is on the table.

Alex Kozela, who recently started the master's program in the School, pointed out the inefficiency of parking land use. "If we laid out all the parking spaces in the United States, they would take up twice the state of Connecticut," he said. "But there's so much more you can do with that space than park a car."

"If you create alternative spaces for people to work in, have fun in, exist in, it's better for the environment and it's better for human health."

"We talk a lot in the program about pedestrian safety and traffic calming," said Asha McDonald, a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student. "Taking parking spots out and putting pedestrian-friendly things in their place is a great way to slow down traffic, which increases pedestrian and bike safety."

"Ultimately, our streets are auto-centric and people don't like it," Vitti said.

Student and Professional Groups Support Park(ing) Day

A representative from MARTA talks to a pedestrian in front of a parklet with benches and artificial turf created by the MARTA team.

Along with SPA, campus groups participating in the event included Starter Bikes, hosting a pop-up bicycle repair service, the Georgia Tech chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, hosting games and information about traffic and transportation, and Serve-Learn-Sustain, hosting a quiz based on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Off-campus groups included the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Sierra Club, VHB, the MARTA Army, Emerging Planners of Georgia, the Midtown Alliance, and MARTA.

Want To Know More?

Any Questions?

Join Our Email List

Media Interview Requests

Take A Virtual Tour of Campus